Red Ladder has stepped up to cater for working class audiences (your views, October 12)
In response to Lyn Gardner’s column on why theatre must engage with all communities (‘What has theatre done for white van man lately?’, Comment, October 6): Lyn, you just missed Red Ladder’s immersive show The Shed Crew [at Albion Electronics Warehouse, Leeds, from September 21-October 1], an adaptation of the book Urban Grimshaw and the Shed Crew by Bernard Hare.
The main character died only four months ago, and relatives and members of the community who knew him came to see the show and found it therapeutic and an essential part of their grieving process.
It was a critical triumph – although the review in The Stage missed the local impact it had and concentrated on the verse structures. Never mind: it was very much a piece for and about a working-class community battling with poverty.
Artistic director, Red Ladder
Programmes and perambulation
I’m surprised that in response to David Lister’s column about the lack of information in theatre programmes (Opinion, September 14), no mention has been made of the programmes sold at the Royal Court.
As well as production credits, you get the text of the play. It would be nice if it added photos of the cast, but at the same price – or less – than programmes in other London theatres that are filled with pages of advertisements, the Court’s offering stands head and shoulders above the rest.
Email address supplied
Doctor Who writer and producer Steven Moffat recently opined: “Don’t stop in the middle of a show and send the audience to a terrible bar. Don’t do that, it’s a stupid idea. Stop having intervals and let people go to a decent restaurant afterwards.”
I rather agree, particularly on a matinee, but intervals are about money for the theatre, audience members stretching their legs and for people who need the toilet. Otherwise those people would disturb us when getting up to go to the toilet and back, and we’d have to stand up twice.
I stick to an ice cream and a walkabout. Most people will have travelled a long way, sitting. Then they will be looking at train timetables, rather than a restaurant after the show. Except for the matinee punters.
Gladstone Street, Peterborough
Follies is not for me, nor the NT
I am almost 75 and have been an avid fan of stage and film musicals my entire life. And I can state categorically that, with the exception of some travesty called Honk!, the worst show I have ever seen is Stephen Sondheim’s Follies. To my mind it should be retitled Sondheim’s Folly.
The basic premise – the reunion of a group of middle-aged to elderly ladies who were Ziegfeld-type follies in their youth – is a great idea for a musical. And the score contains a couple of good numbers in Broadway Baby and I’m Still Here. But the rest of the show is banal, repetitive and uninspiring.
So I am completely baffled as to why the powers-that-be at the National Theatre consider this material to be suitable for a revival.
The role of a National Theatre should be to produce new work by British writers and composers, not revivals of grossly sub-standard works by an American multimillionaire.
Harrington Crescent, Exton
TV mourns the life of Brian
I agree with Richard Stevens that when it comes to BBC arts presenters and researchers, “the problem is quality, not quantity” (Letters, October 5).
Sadly, the reason “outsiders such as Brian Sewell have been pushed to the fringes” is because, in Brian’s case, he died in 2015. Perhaps the BBC can repeat some of his programmes.
Greenacres, Shoreham-by-Sea West Sussex
Quotes of the week
“I think there are very few opportunities for women to be active and powerful – the stereotypical male role. It’s usually Emma [Thompson] or Meryl Streep who get to bite down on those. So I’m sometimes called on to play rather passive characters. Of course I can give the director what they want. But hopefully I give them something more; some bite and weight of my own.”
Kristin Scott Thomas (Guardian)
“I just leant very heavily on Martin [Freeman]’s knowledge of the play, the subject matter, the characters, and I just did a lot of programming, like you would with a computer program, putting the lines in. I’m desperately trying to remember 97 pages of dialogue learned in two weeks and remember where the spray cream is, so I’ve got my head down.”
Tamsin Greig on stepping into Labour of Love (BBC Radio 4 Front Row)
“I was never that involved in the machine of press and publicity as an actor because I’ve always kind of worked on the margins of my profession… I’m not an actor because I want my picture taken. I’m an actor because I want to be part of the human exchange.”
Frances McDormand (New York Times)
“He was never that interested in responding to trends in new writing or the theatre world. He knew what his interests and obsessions were, and was driven to pursue his very particular agenda.”
Duncan Macmillan on Mike Bartlett (Guardian)
“I was fearful people might have thought I was not taking it seriously and might think, ‘He’s a pop singer who thinks he can just write a musical and it’s going to be easy.’ I certainly didn’t. I always knew it was going to be difficult and challenging.”
Dan Gillespie Sells on writing Everybody’s Talking About Jamie (Evening Standard)
“We should talk more about failure in theatre. Nothing’s more heartening than hearing someone say, ‘We got this wrong and here’s what we learnt.’”
Amber Massie-Blomfield (Twitter)
“For the first time since my teens, I realised I didn’t have a new play in my head. It was an appalling moment. But then I thought: ‘Oh well. I have a decent back catalogue – I will just do the old ones. I can make a living.’”
Alan Ayckbourn on having a stroke (Telegraph)
“I just don’t wanna sit and watch telly. I’d rather write a musical. I don’t know what else to do.”
Mel Brooks on retiring (Time Out)
What you said on Facebook
About Theatre Royal Drury Lane’s plans to reduce seating capacity and add a restaurant in its ‘spectacular’ £35 million redevelopment…
As if there aren’t enough good restaurants in Covent Garden!
Nigel P Herbert
Food over theatre means the beginning of the end.
James Dean Wilson
Took them long enough. Hopefully they will get both male and female toilets on each level, not one side for each. No one wants to walk up hundreds of steps to the balcony. These were all problems we had complaints about.
In response to Richard Jordan’s online column asking if security staff at theatres need better training to avoid alienating audiences…
I found the complaint that “security didn’t know answers to simple questions like when the show ends” really lame. Surely it’s not part of their job to have to know that? They probably work at a different theatre every night, and either way, they’re not the people to ask questions to if you don’t want your queues to be even longer/slower.
Tried the tech today, really interesting stuff. With a few tweaks it will make a huge difference in terms of increasing the accessibility of performance.
Alistair Charles Wilkin
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